Misinformation Fighting Directory — FactCheck.Org: A Conversation with Eugene Kiely

This article is part of our new Misinformation Fighting Directory where we interview organizations and projects that have built solutions or launched initiatives to help fight fake news and misinformation online.

The following is an interview we recently had with Eugene Kiely, Director, FactCheck.org.

Misinformation Fighting Directory — FactCheck.Org: A Conversation with Eugene Kiely

Tell us about the team behind your project: 

FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. It was founded in December 2003 by Brooks Jackson, who had previously worked at the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and CNN, and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and former dean of the UPenn Annenberg School for Communications. 

What’s the mission behind your organization? 

We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players and debunk viral deceptions on social media. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

How do you help fight misinformation and fake news?

We are one of the original third-party independent fact checkers working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on the social media network’s platforms. We have been working with Facebook since December 2016 and have published nearly 800 articles debunking viral deceptions. We also provide several resources for readers: a guide on how to flag suspicious stories on Facebook and a list of websites that have carried false or satirical articles, as well as a video and story on how to spot false stories.

What is the impact of misinformation online to society? 

The impact has been significant. It has eroded trust in all three branches of government and the fourth estate – the media. Consider what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 when people who were misinformed about the 2020 election broke into the Capitol and disrupted the electoral count. To quote Senator Mitch McConnell: “American citizens attacked their own government. They use terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the center floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chatted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they’d been fed wild, falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry.” Those wild falsehoods weren’t just from one man; they existed on social media and cable TV in many forms. We debunked many of those viral claims.